ByJenika Enoch, writer at
I love movies, music, and art. I'm a certified graphic designer and love to be creative as much as humanly possible. @icemyeyes
Jenika Enoch

Disney Parks truly are magical places filled with great food, rides, and shopping. Most people who have visited any of the Disney Parks knows it's difficult to see it all and you always wind up leaving without experiencing something at least once. But that is why Disney nerds like me are here to help you get the most out of your next trip! After all, there is a lot more to do at the Disney Parks than just ride the rides.

For this article, we will be focusing specifically on the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. This resort features three hotel properties, a shopping district, and two parks, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. The idea behind this is to ensure you don't miss out on any of the extra fun brought by non-ride attractions. Also, you might discover some tricks along the way to make your visit just that much more fun. Anyone has the opportunity to feel like a Disney insider with these 16 unique and fun tips. Whether you just want a must have snack or want something to keep an eye out for, these tips will make your next trip even more special.

16. Honor America with the daily Flag Retreat

Location: Disneyland

Every afternoon, Cast Members do a Flag Retreat on Main Street, USA to honor America and its veterans. Along with the taking of the flag, the Disneyland Band performs "The Star Spangled Banner." Any guests are welcome to watch and any and all veterans are invited to participate.

15. Don't assume the animation building is another store

Location: Disney's California Adventure

This giant building dedicated to celebrating the beauty and fun of animation is located at Hollywood Land inside Disney's California Adventure. Although it is the current area to meet Anna & Elsa from Frozen (FastPass required!), the building features three separate areas open for exploration. You can talk to sea turtles in Turtle Talk with Crush, learn how to draw your favorite Disney characters from real animators in the Animation Academy, or you can take a stroll through the Sorcerer's Workshop to learn more about your favorite Disney villains.

14. Capture your silhouette

Location: Disneyland

One way to immortalize your experience at Disneyland aside from just taking a normal photo is to have your silhouette captured. The silhouette studio is located on Main Street, USA and it gives you the chance to have your face captured either alone, with your family and friends, or with a classic Disney character.

13. Steer the Mark Twain Riverboat

Location: Disneyland

If you ask nicely, you just might get the chance to steer the Mark Twain around the Rivers of America. You even get a special certificate after you're done! It must be noted that while construction for the upcoming Star Wars land is underway the Rivers of America are closed, but you can still walk through the Mark Twain and visit the wheelhouse.

12. Explore what Downtown Disney has to offer

Location: Disneyland Resort grounds

Downtown Disney is an outdoor shopping and dining walkway that connects the Disney theme parks to the resort's hotel properties; not to mention it's completely free and open to the public, even non resort guests. The area contains numerous restaurants, a 12-screen AMC movie theater, and many stores including a massive World of Disney store. It's also where you catch the Disneyland Monorail if you don't feel like walking the entire length to the gates.

11. You might want to listen closely to the Morse Code

Location: Disneyland

There are various train stops throughout Disneyland which serve as stations for the Disneyland Railroad. The station in New Orleans Square features a telegraph playing a Morse Code message in the background. The translation of the code is a snippet of Walt Disney's opening day dedication speech on July 17, 1955: "To all who come to Disneyland, welcome. Here, age relives fond memories of the past, and here, youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future."

10. Take a hike through the Redwoods

Location: Disney's California Adventure

The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is an area located near Grizzly Peak in Disney's California Adventure park. It's an active area that allows you to get some "wilderness" experience, let your kids run and play, or enjoy a Wilderness Explorer's meeting with Russell and Dug from Up. The plus side is it's usually not jam packed, so it's a nice area to stroll through without feeling like you're being crammed into a sardine can.

9. Keep an eye out for Hidden Mickeys

Locations: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure

Disney Imagineers always find ways to make our time in the parks more fun and interesting. One of these ways is the planting of Hidden Mickeys throughout the resort. A Hidden Mickey is basically any item or design that makes up the classic Mickey Mouse silhouette. These are hidden throughout the resort property inside attractions, hotels, stores, and restaurants.

8. Don't forget your map of the jungle

Location: Disneyland

After setting sail aboard the world famous Jungle Cruise, ask a Cast Member for a souvenir map. There aren't many things at Disneyland that are free, so you might as well enjoy the little things while you can.

7. Who wants to wake up the birds?

Location: Disneyland

The Enchanted Tiki Room isn't everyone's favorite place, but it can be fun if you add some flare. Upon entering the waiting area, don't hesitate to approach a Cast Member about starting off the show. When the doors open, you'll be prompted by the Cast Member to wake up José and the birds to start the show.

6. Enjoy a fantasy in the sky

Location: Disneyland

Whether you want to unwind after a long day in the park or you just want a calm moment, one option is always the nighttime fireworks in Disneyland. Currently, Disneyland is hosting the "Disneyland Forever" show in commemoration of the park's 60th anniversary. Just be sure to stake out your spot on Main Street, USA in advance. It's definitely not something you can just walk up and watch as soon as it starts. If fireworks aren't your thing, you can also check out the nighttime water show, World of Color, inside Disney's California Adventure.

5. Start a button collection

Locations: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure

Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure has a variety of buttons that are good for just about any occasion. Whether you're celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, or it's your first visit, you can walk into any store or street sweeping Cast Member and ask for a free button. The most efficient place to receive specific buttons, like birthdays and first visits, is at City Hall on Main Street, USA in Disneyland.

4. Make a reservation at Blue Bayou

Location: Disneyland

You might have walked past Blue Bayou and not even noticed it, but it's definitely an experience that has to be had to really be believed. The Creole inspired restaurant is located inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square. It's the very same restaurant you pass while cruising through the bayou on the ride and the food is absolutely delicious. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance because it fills up very quickly.

3. Enjoy a Dole Whip

Location: Disneyland

Dole Whips have somewhat of a cult following among Disney fans. These frozen pineapple treats can be found in Adventureland right next to The Enchanted Tiki Room and they're worth every penny. Plus, they are non-dairy so all of us unlucky enough to be lactose intolerant can still enjoy! They're available in soft serve or floats mixed with pineapple juice. If for some reason you don't feel like ice cream, don't pass up the chance to grab a churro at any of the churro carts scattered throughout both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.

2. Check out the resort hotel properties

My view from the Disneyland Hotel Adventure Tower
My view from the Disneyland Hotel Adventure Tower

Location: Disneyland Resort grounds

Just like any other hotel, there are areas that are reserved for hotel guests only, but that doesn't mean you can't still visit the Disneyland Resort hotel properties to take a look. The resort houses three hotels: the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Located in each hotel property are restaurants and stores that are open to the public. For me personally, I never pass up the opportunity to grab a drink at Trader Sam's located at the Disneyland Hotel.

1. Don't forget to visit the pet cemetery

Location: Disneyland

Although you can no longer get death certificates after riding the Haunted Mansion, you can still receive a special guided tour from your ghoulish hosts. If you approach a Cast Member and ask about the pet cemetery, you should be given a guided tour of the secret area.


Keep a lookout for the "Disney cats"

Trust me, this isn't just a myth. If you keep an eye out, you might just see cats roaming around the resort. Disney Cast Members take extra steps to care for about 200 feral cats. Feeding and sleeping stations are scattered throughout the park. In return, it's been said that these cats assist in containing rodents and other pests that exterminators can't effectively eliminate. There is even a Twitter page dedicated to them.
If you see a cat roaming around or sleeping, don't try to approach it. Although they are fed and cared for by Cast Members, they are technically wild cats and Disney doesn't encourage guests to try and approach them if they're spotted.

What are your favorite things to do besides the rides at Disney Parks? Let us all know in the comments!


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